by Jake Fischer / @JakeLFischer
The question is as prevalent as ever: How do you justly compare one era of basketball to another? How can you prove who was greater: Michael Jordan or LeBron James? How can you judge George Mikan’s dominance in the paint versus that of, say, Shaquille O’Neal?
While these questions will likely go unanswered until someone far smarter than you and I comes up with a scientific formula to come to definitive conclusions, Dan Collins has come up with a way to fairly assess the many heroes of the 59 years of ACC basketball history in The ACC Basketball Book of Fame.
Collins served on the 2002 “blue-ribbon committee” that selected the 50 greatest players in the league’s decorated history. Although he had a vote, Collins wasn’t OK with the result and the voted list. In the Book of Fame, he has found a solution to appease his discomfort—a unique point system.
Essentially, Collins has assigned point values to post-season awards to truly consider how prominent players were in their respective eras. So, a player was given 425 points if he was a unanimous First-Team All-ACC selection, 400 points if he received the most votes of the members on any year’s All-ACC First-Team and the list descends by votes received for the post-season honors. He also assigns points to individual awards too, such as Player of the Year and All-American selections.
Now, you can still argue that Collins’ system is flawed. For example, post-season awards don’t often take individual players’ teams’ records into account. A player’s teams’ record might not have an impact on how media members view his particular season, but it certainly impacts how they view that player’s career.
Also, what about the guys who were stellar underclassmen but left college to pursue the NBA without a diploma?
Nonetheless, Collins does a pretty solid job.
After introducing this scoring system, Collins then proceeds to unveil his 50 greatest players in ACC basketball history via his method in reverse-chronological order. He leads off with North Carolina grad and current Cleveland Cavalier Tyler Zeller, who comes in at 1,200 points and works his way down the 1955 ACC Player of the Year, Wake Forest’s Dickie Hemric.
Following his countdown and depictions of each of his 50 greatest players’ careers, Collins takes a few moments to recognize the players who have the best arguments to belong in that category. Guys like Chris Paul and Walter Davis didn’t accumulate enough points to make the cut, but Collins does his best to give these players their spoonful of glory.
Overall, it’s a daunting challenge to try and create a definitive list about the history of anything, let alone a sport that so many fans, students and athletes alike are extremely passionate about.
Yet in his 300 pages, Collins manages to back up some of his controversial decisions and give equal recognition to the opposition.
You can get your copy of The ACC Basketball Book of Fame on Amazon.com.